The First 100 Pages: Was by Geoff Ryman

This month I’m reading Geoff Ryman’s Was. It was first released in 1992 in hardcover, three year’s before Gregory Macguire’s Wicked.  I haven’t read Wicked, but find it unfortunate that Was just didn’t seem to catch on like Macguire’s book did in 1995.  I had not even heard of Ryman’s book till last year when I came across it on a random search on Amazon and added it to my Wish List.  I broke down and treated myself to a used copy this year for under $3.00.

I just passed the 100 page mark last night (the reason for the title of this post, and possibly a post I’ll continue in the future for other reads.)  At first, the book was moving at a very slow pace, and though tempted to put it down I really wanted to like the book so I stuck with it.  I’m glad I did.

The book follows three distinct storylines all related to the Wizard of Oz.  First, there’s Dorothy as a little girl and the events that lead her to have to go live with Auntie Em and how her new life in Kansas is.  This part has been most of the first 100 pages thus far.

There has been only two chapters so far covering a second storyline about a young man that seems to be obsessed with the Wizard of Oz and going to Kansas to find the “real” locations of where Dorothy lived.  Not much has been revealed about this part of the story so far, other than what I read on the back of the book.

The last story line follows Judy Garland.  The first chapter was about her when she was born Frances Gumm and performed with her sisters.  It was a brief glimpse into her family life, then there was another beautifully written chapter about her on the set of Oz having a discussion with her make-up artist.  It was pretty much this chapter that really got the story going and made me change my mind about putting the book down.

The book reminds me a bit of Michael Cunningham’s The Hours, a book I loved, in the way that it follows three different story lines that are loosely connected in some way whether it be historical or even just coincidence. Although a slow read in the beginning, I kind of enjoyed that because Ryman is such an interesting writer.  I feel like I have to read it slow because I don’t want to miss anything.  There are definitely quotes here I want to underline and share later with my full review of the book.  His writing his so simple, yet thought provoking.  Even haunting, despite that being a clichè I seem to use a lot lately.

Hoping to finish this one before vacation.  Not sure how much time I’ll have for reading in New Orleans in a couple of weeks, but I want to be armed with something good or buy something while I’m there to read myself to sleep at night.

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